At the Microsoft TechEd conference in Durban this week, SEAN BACHER looked under the hood of Office 365 Home Premium with Microsoft’s Uriel Rootshtain.
At the end of January, Microsoft changed Office Home Premium 2013 and Office University 2011 from off-the-shelf products to subscription-based offerings. This made many people uncomfortable as they were used to paying for a product, taking it home and installing it on their computer.
Uriel Rootshtain, business lead of the Office division at Microsoft SA wants to set minds at rest. “Although Office 365 Home Premium is now a subscription service, consumers can still go to electronic retail outlets and buy it off-the-shelf.”” But he warns that people won’t find much in the box except a product activation key.
“”Users who go this route will still need to download and install Office 365 Home Premium from the Microsoft site. Once done, they need to activate it by punching in the key found in the box. “”Users can also simply buy an activation key online while downloading the suite,”” he says.
Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium is also being shipped with many new machines, which allows new users to try out the software and then buy an activation key without having to download anything.
Two of the major benefits of Office 365 Home Premium is that once you have payed R650 for the key, you can install the package on up to five devices for twelve months. “”This means that you can have Office 365 Home Premium on your desktop, laptop and even on certain tablets and smartphones, allowing you to start work on one device and continue where you left of on any of the others linked to your profile,”” says Rootshtain. Also, because Office is now a subscription based product, you will always have the latest software installed on all devices.
Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium offers the standard Office products like Outlook, Excel, Word and PowerPoint, but included is 27GB of Cloud storage on SkyDrive. Also included is sixty minutes worth of Skype calls to both mobile and landline numbers.
“”At the same time that Office Home Premium 2013 was switched over to subscription-based model, we launched Office 365 University,”” Rootshtain said.
Office 365 University is a similar offering to Office 365 Home Premium, but as the name indicates – is aimed at the student. “”Office 365 University can only be installed on two devices, but instead of the subscription lasting one year, students only have to renew their subscription every four years,”” he says. Students who want to sign up for the Office 365 University package need to provide their e-mail address to Microsoft, as only accredited schools and universities qualify for this offering.
So what’s new in Office 365 Home Premium?
Microsoft Word has undergone quite a few changes as the product is now designed to work on both touch-screen devices and computers with a mouse and keyboard.
Microsoft has also made online collaboration a lot easier, letting you follow and track changes as they are made in a document. “”Once a task is assigned to someone, that person will be informed that a change needs to be made in a document, and once the change has been made, a check box must be checked to inform others of the change,”” he says. A running list of changes and comments is stored with the document, allowing all collaborators to keep up to date with what has and has not been done.
Another new feature in Word is the ability to work with PDFs. “”In the past copying and pasting from a PDF document was a mess. The formatting disappeared and images and graphs sometimes copied, making the experience tedious,”” says Rootshtain. But now, Word allows you to open a PDF document, keeping all formatting and allowing you to make quick and easy changes.
Excel has also had a major overhaul, especially when extracting single bits of data from other cells in a spreadsheet. “”For instance, in the past if you wanted to extract names from e-mail addresses you would have to write out a complicated algorithm that extracts all letters before the @ sign. You would then have to create a new algorithm that separates first names from last names,”” he says.
With the Flash Fill feature though, all you do is select the table, create a new column and type out the name of the first contact, the column is then automatically updated with names of all the contacts below that.
We have all heard of the “”death by PowerPoint”” adage, and although Microsoft has not done away with programme in the new Office suites, it has made it a lot easier to use and present. “”PowerPoint now offers a dual-screen mode, so presenters are able to view their notes and the next slide, while the audience sees only the slide he or she is talking about,”” he says. We have also include a zoom option for slides full of text.
Finally, Outlook has also gone through some changes. “”Users can quickly change the Outlook format, depending on the device they are using,”” says Rootshtain. When in touch-screen format, icons are made bigger and users can close unneeded toolbars – giving them more screen space to move around. Microsoft has also integrated social media into the contacts section, so you can send a LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter message directly from the Compose Message option.
* Follow Sean on Twitter on @SeanBacher
Scammers cleaning up with gullible computer users
Kaspersky experts have detected a two-fold rise in the number of users being attacked with fake system cleaners – fraudulent programmes designed to trick users into paying for alleged serious computer issues to be fixed. The number of users hit reached 1,456,219 in the first half of 2019, compared to just 747,322 for the same period in 2018. During this time, some of the attacks have become more sophisticated and dangerous.
A slow-working or poorly performing computer is a common complaint among PC users, and there are many legitimate tools available to solve such issues. However, alongside genuine system cleaners, there are fake ones developed by fraudsters that are designed to trick users into believing their computer is in critical danger, for example through memory overload, and needs immediate cleaning. The attackers then offer to provide such a service in return for payment. Kaspersky defines and detects such programmes as ‘hoax system cleaners’.
Upon receiving user permission and payment, the fraudsters install the hoax programmes that claim to clean the PC, but which often either do nothing or install adware – an annoying, but not critical, storm of unsolicited advertising – on the computer. Increasingly, however, the cybercriminals are using the installation of hoax cleaners to download or disguise malware such as Trojans or ransomware.
The countries most affected by attacks with hoax cleaners in the first half of 2019 show how geographically widespread the threat is; leading the list is Japan with 12% of affectedusers, followed by Germany (10%), Belarus (10%), Italy (10%) and Brazil (9%).
“We’ve been watching how the phenomenon of hoax cleaners has been growing for the last couple of years, and it is a curious threat. On the one hand, many samples that we have seen are spreading more widely and becoming more dangerous, evolving from a simple ‘fraudulent’ scheme into fully functioning and dangerous malware. On the other hand, they are so widespread and seemingly innocent, that it is much easier for them to trick users into paying for a service, rather than frightening them with screen blockers and other unpleasant malware. However, these two ways end up with the same results with users losing their money,” says Artemiy Ovchinnikov, security researcher at Kaspersky.
Kaspersky detects hoax system cleaners as:
To avoid falling victim to hoax threats, Kaspersky researchers advise users to:
- Always check that the PC services that you are about to adopt are legitimate and easy to understand. If it sounds confusing, use a search engine to find out more about the service as there may be a more detailed explanation available
- Use a reliable security solution for comprehensive protection with a clean-up function for a wide range of threats and PC cleansing, such as Kaspersky Security Cloud.
- If you are purposely looking for a PC cleaner, use reliable, IT-targeted sources of information for recommendations, with a long-built reputation and software reviews.
Read the full report on Kaspersky Daily.
Trend Micro unveils security suite for Azure in Africa
Cybersecurity leader Trend Micro Incorporated has announced highly optimised security solutions for Microsoft Azure workloads for customers in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Trend Micro Deep Security suite takes into consideration that a customer needs to approach cloud security differently than one would traditional security. As a result, it is fully optimised for Microsoft Azure. The suite ensures that a customer can tap into a solution that provides flexible, scalable protection of operating systems, applications, and data without slowing you down.
“Microsoft is an important partner to Trend Micro and as a result we have built a series of technologies that support their position in the cloud,” says Indi Siriniwasa, vice president at Trend Micro Sub-Saharan Africa. “Our security solutions are uniquely optimised for Microsoft Azure and complement Microsoft Azure Security Centre so customers across the world continue to turn to Trend Micro to help better secure their Azure real estate. With Microsoft Azure now available from new cloud regions in South Africa, customers can rest assured that we support the use of Microsoft to streamline provisioning of security for Windows virtual machines and SharePoint workloads.
“This will help customers to ensure that their security follows them from their physical environment to the cloud and back again, customers can automate security with Microsoft PowerShell scripting to streamline provisioning of security for Windows virtual machines and SharePoint workloads plus many other orchestration tools for Azure, including Chef, Puppet, and RightScale, we can also help clients to better automate security control deployments.”
With Deep Security for Azure, businesses can detect and protect against intrusions as well as protect their business against serious vulnerabilities with intrusion detection and prevention (IDS/IPS). The solution will also help uncover suspicious changes to a system and immediately highlight and alert the business to these activities – without security admins having to manually sort through logs.
It also has the ability to keep malware off of workloads by using predictive machine learning mechanisms to detect unknown threats and prevalent attacks, so that a user can identify and then remove malware and blacklist domains known to be command-and-control (C&C) servers. Customers can also stop applications attached with IPS rules that block XSS or SQL attacks and other serious vulnerabilities until systems can be patched, as well as increase application visibility and control.
A particularly relevant feature within the South African context is that Deep Security is able to speed up a client’s route to PCI DSS compliance. The Deep Security solution allows a client to meet multiple PCI requirements with a single product, including intrusion detection and prevention, file integrity monitoring, and log inspection.
“Trend Micro’s integration with Microsoft Azure reduces the dependence on multiple point security tools, helping you to identify and address security and configuration issues quickly,” says Adwait Joshi, director, Azure Product Marketing at Microsoft Corp.
Trend Micro provided the following information:
Trend Micro’s Deep Security currently secures more servers globally than any other solution and specialises in protection for cloud and virtualised workload. It acts as part of the Trend Micro Hybrid Cloud Security solution, powered by XGen and provides comprehensive, flexible security for Azure workloads in a single product, so you can build new applications or move existing resources to the cloud with confidence.
Deep Security protects workloads by:
- Defending against network threats with intrusion detection and prevention (IDS/IPS)
- Immediately protecting against vulnerabilities like Shellshock and Heartbleed
- Keeping malware off Windows and Linux workloads
- Alerting when unplanned or suspicious changes are made to systems
- Stopping SQL injection and XSS attacks on applications
- Gaining visibility and control of elastic workloads with application control that fits DevOps
Local Trend Micro customers can also turn to the company’s Trend Micro Cloud App Security which is directly integrated into Office 365 via APIs. This includes advanced email protection, as well as compliance on third-party cloud file sharing services such as: Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business.